Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Where has this year gone?

I sound crazy asking this question. But I really do wonder where this year has gone? I wonder what will this next year will bring? I wonder will this next year be different from last year? I wonder about how my life with Christ will be different? Julie and I long to be parents. Will this be the year? Am I ready for this?
What are you thinking about as we close out one year and move on into another? Take some time and reflect on your life and consider what God is up to in your life and our world.

The Bible reminds me that my life is brief - like a vapor. Kind of like your breath on a cold morning - vanishing is just a moment. Since this is the truth, we would do well to stop long enough to gain a new perspective as the new year is fast approaching.

I want God's perspective on my life.

I want God's best for those I love the most and even those I don't know.

I want to see God work in this world in a way that people would be amazed by his grace.

I want to experience life like I never have before.

I want to make people smile, to bless others, to forgive, be a grace giver!

I want to laugh out loud as much as possible.

I want to jump in the mud and play in the rain. Jesus said that must be like child. hmm :)


What do you want?

Monday, December 21, 2009

December 21 - The Bread of Life

Jesus was born in Bethlehem which means "bread of heaven". It was appropriate that our Savior was born in this city, because he is the "bread of life". Jesus alone will satisfy the hunger in our souls. He will quinch the great hunger of the world and we have in this life. When Jesus came to this earth he came to give people taste of heaven. He knew that people were tired and hungry for the real thing and he delivered. Stale bread is awful and so is stale religion!
Most of the time are statisfied with some far less than what we are offered in a relationship with the Lord. We are too willing to have our palets layered with the things of this world that will always leave us wanting. What are you satisfied with? What are you allowing your life to be feed with?

Feast on the Lord, his Word, and his will.

Futher Reading:
Luke 4:4; John 6:25-40

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December 20 - Where is Your Post?

This past week while we were on our mission trip in New York City, we were involved in servant evangelism. Servant evangelism has been a practice of The Journey Church since the church was started some seven years ago. This has been a way for them to love the city and also provide the individuals information about the church. We were able to hand out cards and granola bars to nearly twenty-four thousand people. Over the next few weeks and months the church will most certainly see first time visitors from the cards we were able to distribute and some of them will pray to receive Christ as Savior. In fact, this past month the church saw thirty first time decisions from their faithful work in the city. is was great to be a part of the ministry this church is doing in NYC.

This past week were were in five different locations throughout the city. These different sites were our mission posts for the week. We would gather our material and then head our to ministry site to serve the people of NYC with the love of Christ. Now let me ask you a question. Where is your mission post? Where has God placed you to be a light for Him? When Christ came to earth he displayed the love of God in a radical way. God is call us to do the same. Are you and I daily serving the people around us and helping further the kingdom of God in our own zip-code?

Further Reading:
2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December 17 - Christmas Giving or Getting

I was looking through my Charlie Brown comic book again the other day and noticed a very thought provoking one written back in the late 60's. Linus is asking what we mean when we ask if someone had a "good" Christmas, so I began to wonder myself about this idea that Linus had brought up. What is a good Christmas to you? Is it the number of gifts you receive? Is it how big your bonus is?
The Bible helps us see that the it is more blessed to give than to receive. Giving is the nature of the Gospel. Jesus gave his life. Jesus gave his all. What are we giving this year? How are you giving your life away? Are you serving those around you? Do you give the gift of time to those you closest to you?

"the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom form many."
Matthew 20:28

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 15 - On Display

In the person of Jesus Christ, God the Father was on display. Tonight our NYC mission team will have the privilege of seeing the Broadway musical The Lion King. I have heard that the costumes are amazing and even demand applause. The characters of the musical are brought to life by the creative and elaborately designed costumes. The actors and actresses wear these stunning costumes in hopes of bringing the crowd into each moment on the stage.
When God sent his Son Jesus he was displaying himself to his people. God the Father was on display and was helping people relate to himself. In Jesus, the Father was expressing his love for people and drawing them to himself. Scripture tells us that if the Son is lifted up, that he will draw all people to himself.

This Christmas consider how the Lord is expressing his love for the people of the world and as he is exalted others will in fact be drawn to him!

Further Reading:
John 3: 22-36
John 12: 20-36

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 13 - Slow Down

I have been in New York for about a day and the pace is crazy. We have been all over the city and our team of 14 handled the subway with ease. People are going and coming all hours of the day and night, but when I read the the Christmas story there is a slower pace. We celebrate the Savior that has been born, crucified, and has risen. We have the benefit of being on the other side of the story, but for those who first heard the news, there was a different pace for them. The Lord was to be born, but took 9 months for this to occur, the shepherds did not take the subway to the manger, and wise men did not jump on a jet. We hustle around and forget to slow down long enough to really enjoy the season and the moments we experience during Christmas.

Make an intentional decision to slow down and enjoy reading the stories of Christmas. Allow the Lord to use the moments with an old friend to bring the joy of Christmas home to you. Take time with your family and truly be present with them, rather than just thinking they will always be around.
Take a slower pace and drink deep from the Well that will not run dry!

Friday, December 11, 2009

December 11 - A Common Christmas

We like the flash and the pizazz of Tinsel Town but there was no glitz that first Christmas. A common family in a very common town had the Christ child in very common place - a stable. The baby was given a common name and lived not the life of privilege but a very common life of a carpenter. He worked with hands and made his living with wood. In the end he did his greatest work as he spread out his hands and hung on a wooden cross for the sins of the world. Jesus lived a common life and died a criminal's death - but all this was extraordinary.

You see, it seems that God is not caught up in the glitz and glamour of Broadway, rather he does his greatest work in the common every day experiences each of us have. The Father does his work in our lives in a way that reminds that we all sought after by the risen Carpenter from Bethlehem. They call him Jesus. Yes, Jesus is his name.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December 10 - The Way of the Humble

I have always been intrigued with the shepherds. They were unknown and not even considered worthy of anything religious. Yet they were given the blessed words that the Savior had been born. No one thought the announcement of Christ's birth would be proclaimed to some lowly shepherds. I like this because it lets me know that it is not important to be known by the world as much as it is to be known by the Lord. This also seems to indicate that God does not play favorites. God is not interested in who we are as much as we know we are his. Are you known by God? Are you pursuing greatness or to just follow after Him? May the Lord trust us with His words as walk humbly with Him.
"Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:11

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December 8 - Christmas & Faith

I love this from the writer of Hebrews:
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
This is what the ancients were commended for."
Hebrews 11:1-2
When I read the Christmas story I am struck by the faith each character displays. They hear what the angel has to say and simply trust them to be true. They know that the messiah is coming, but they do not know how and yet they believe. Mary and Joseph have the faith to believe. The shepherds have the faith to believe. The wise men have the faith to believe. Do I? Do you?
When God speaks to you do you believe what he is saying? First of all, we must hear from the Lord. Are you putting yourself in a position to hear from God? God speaks to in all sorts of ways. I have never heard him audibly, but he does speak to me in his Word, in books, and sermons. God reveals himself to us in our daily experiences we have and in the midst of our daily obedience. The real question is am I willing to believe and then act on what God has to say when he does speak.
This Christmas begin cultivating an ear for the Lord. You will simply be amazed at what you hear.

Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7 Jesus Brings Life

We enjoy a lot of fun during the Christmas season and I just love it. I have great memories of wonderful times with my family and friends. When I lived in Virginia I always wanted it to snow. I think we only had one Christmas snow, but the anticipation surrounding the season was a great part of the fun. As a child I remember thinking that Christmas would never come, but so glad when it did.

These memories are great, but we must remember that Jesus came to bring life to our soul. This does not mean that our childhood experiences are rendered unimportant, just that they are not why Jesus came. Jesus came to conquer death so that we might experience life in him. I love what that the angel said, " he will be called Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." This bring life. All the tensile in the world can't bring life. You can get more and more under the tree, but if you don't have Jesus, you don't have life.

"I am the way and the truth and the life." Jesus
John 14:6

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December 6 - The Beginning of Something Real

What did that first Christmas accomplish?
It is kind of hard to consider what exactly the first Christmas was like, because obviously I have only experienced Chirstmas since then. But I would think that it must have been quite amazing to hear those first words that the promised Messiah was coming. I know that it was challenging and terribly frightening for many, but that first Christmas was magnificent in that God the Father put on a face. He put a face on his love for his creation. How great is it that God came in the form of a man and came to display his love for us.

Remember this: At Christmas we celebrate that God took the initiative in having a relationship with us.

What was different about Jesus than the popular religion of his day?
The religion of Jesus' day did more to keep others out than to help them find a way in. In fact, even the first disciples found in hard to understand that in the person of Jesus they were seeing the Father. The Father was in Jesus and Jesus was in Him. Jesus was authenticating the love and character of the Father in person.

Remember this: At Christmas we cebrate that Jesus was a visible expression of the Father in every way!

How can you and I keep our faith fresh each day?
The truth is we will never keep our faith real each day if don't take time to spend time with the Lord. The sad truth is, if we do not take our relationship with the Lord seriously, the Christmas story will just be another stale story we have heard over and over again. Now, I don't want this and I am sure that you don't either, so take some time daily to spend with the Lord.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December 5 - Speaking of Hope

So, I wonder what it must have been like on that wonderful night when the angel appeared to Mary? What must it have been like to bring this great news to her? We can only imaging what went on in heaven before the angel come with the great news. Was their great anticipation? Did the Father send for the angel in order to make the message was clear? Did all of heaven look down in amazement at the thought of Jesus being born? These questions and more, simply make us wonder what was going on in heaven that awesome night.
I do know it was great news and brought hope to all. Jesus, the promised Messiah, would save his people from their sins. The great message was that Jesus was in fact coming to fulfill the great prophecies of old. Decade after decade the people had been waiting for the promised coming of the Holy One, the Savior. Now the news of his coming was now being broadcast. Hope was spoken out loud that night.
Speaking of hope... We have the same opportunity when we share our personal encounter with Jesus. To share our faith story, means that we share why we personally follow Jesus and simply who Jesus is. Jesus is our Savior. When was the last time you shared this with someone?

Let me encourage you to take time to share the good news of Jesus with a family member or coworker during this Christmas season. This is one time of the year that we have a great opportunity to share the reason for the hope we have.

Just share the Christmas story and what it means to you!

Reading: Luke 1:46-55

Friday, December 4, 2009

December 4 - The Favor of God

"I long to see God do work in and through my life. Probably much like you do. In fact, it is more than likely similar to most people who are walking with Christ. We want God to bless us and want to experience the favor of God. I have prayed for God's favor and maybe you have as well, but what if we really don't understand the favor of God.

Consider Mary the mother of Jesus. The angle of the Lord came to Mary and told her that she was "highly favored" and that she would give birth to Jesus. Now this was a blessing to her, and yet she was completely pure knowing no man intimately. The birth for her would mean public scorn and family disgrace. The whole situation threw Joseph for a loop and thus he nearly divorced her, but was given wisdom in a dream to follow through with the upcoming marriage. To put it lightly the situation was muddled and very hard to handle. In short the favor of God in the lives of Mary and Joseph brought pain.

Are you ready for this when you ask for the favor of God? Am I? Consider this as you pray for God's work your life. When you pray for God's favor just know that it just might be painful and present you with challenging circumstances. Remember when God works in our lives or through our lives the stakes are often high and the road can be terribly challenging.

"Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
Luke 1:28
Further Reading:
Luke 1:26-38

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December 3 - Hope Is In The Air

I love that Christmas most often stirs within us a deep sense of hope. There is something about this time of the year that I find to be most hopeful but this is not a new emotion for this season. In fact when the prophet Isaiah recorded his great words of prophecy concerning the arrival of the promised deliverer- the Messiah, the people were in captivity. Isaiah wrote of a great light!

How great is the gift of light when we are in darkness? I think of someone coming home and seeing a light that has been left and it brings sense of hope. Personally, I can remember traveling home from college and a light being left on for me when I arrived at the house. I also remember when I would go hunting with my dad and as it got dark I remember being scared. Oh, how the light of my dad's flashlight would bring a sense of peace to the unsettled spirit in my young heart.

When was the last time you were in the dark and light was provided to help you in the matter? Now, it really can be in any type of situation. But one great truth we see readily during this season is simply: Jesus is the light of the world and he longs to be light for each of us. Since Jesus is portrayed as the light of world tells me that he comes to bring hope to the world.

Reflect on this thought over the next few days: the fact that Jesus came to bring hope to the world. If the present reality is bleak or uncertain for you then know that it does not have to be the final definition of your finances, your marriage, or your career. Jesus is hope for you and for me. I need to know this and maybe just maybe you do to.

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of shadow of death a light has dawned."
Isaiah 9:2
For further reading:
Isaiah 9:1-7

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December 2 - God in Person

I truly enjoy the comic strip Peanuts. In 1958 Charles Schulz penned one of his famous comics where Charlie Brown is writing a note to Santa Claus in order to inform Santa of all the things he wants on Christmas day but in the note there is a hint of frustration. The note ends with two frames that say,
"It would be so much easier to talk to you in person.
Do you think maybe we could have lunch some time?"

One of my favorite truths of Christmas is that God came to show His love for us in the form of a person. Jesus is God in person. God with a face on. Jesus put a face on the Father and displayed for all to see what the love of God looks like in real life. As Christians, we have the privilege of relating to Jesus as a real person. Friends, how awesome is it that we have the opportunity day in a day out to talk to God in person? We don't have a dead Savior, "No!", rather we have a risen one that desires to daily minister to us and through us! Are you making the most of this opportunity? Take some time daily to enjoy a simple conversation with Jesus.

"The virgin will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"
- which means, "God with us." Matthew 1:22

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December 1

I hope that you are preparing your heart for what God will show you during this Christmas season. Often we go through the familiar motions of the season and miss what God is longing to communicate to us. When we get lost in the familiar we miss out on the fresh new mercies of the Lord that new every morning. May this Christmas season be as fresh as the morning frost in the cool early morning. The truth of the Christmas story is never old rather it is a grace that we have the privilege of enjoying each new day!

"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thankful or Thankless

As you go about your everyday life I wonder are you mostly thankful or thankless? Be honest. Be willing to take a deep look at your normal everyday outlook on the life you live. It seems that many of us have a tendency to be thankless when in all actuality you can easily be thankless.

The Desire for More - Entitlement Syndrome
The truth of the matter is that most of us have an insatiable desire for more. We live in a day when we can get what we want and as much as we want. We feel entitled to something and that should be able to get it when we want it. We want our silly little wants met but God says hold on soldier. We can't seem to understand why God would not give us our every desire or why we must wait for the need to be met. The truth is we don't deserve a thing. We are blessed beyond measure and I am so very thankful for that. The Lord is good and every prefect gift comes down from above. It seems that often our requests can often be far less than what God wants to do accomplish in our lives. Are you open to the expanded version of God's will for your life. What if God did something completely different in your life than you think is possible? Are ready and willing for God to do more? We must be ready because when we have God we have more!

Just Fix It - I Can Fix It
Truth be known most of us feel that we can handle our issues without much assistance. We sense that the various issues we face are really not that big of a deal and can be handled without much of a problem. We do not like to ask for help and so we figure out a way to meet the need or at least to mask the issue in order to feel a little better about the situation. So what about you? Do you try to handle the situations you face in an attempt to sooth the pain for a period of time or do you allow the Lord to bring sustained healing to your situation. It may take longer and often dose, but with the Lord there is more. Remember: When we have the God we have more!

Be Thankful not Thankless!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Deep Still: No Formula

We all want a formula for spiritual growth, but the truth is we have no formula. The Lord longs to work in our lives daily. There is certain disciplines that lend themselves to the work of God, but you can't just use another person's pattern in hopes of having the same outcome. In my life I know that I a consistent dose of prayer(silence) and Bible study. I need to enjoy God more and live out the joy He has placed in me.

We know this much:

We are made for God.

We have the capacity to grow.

God longs to work in our lives.

God wants to know us more than we want to know Him.

Spiritual disciplines provide an avenue for spiritual growth.

Take some time each day to spend with God. You just never know what might happen.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

On My Mind - Thursday

What are you praying for?
What has your prayer life revolved around lately? Have you just been going through the motions? Sometimes I find myself saying very similar things in my prayers, and although I know that I need to be persistent in my prayer life, I also know that I need to make sure that my prayers are faithfully fresh. This means that I need to be alert to the spiritual needs in me, my marriage, and even around me. There are always ways that God wants to work and I long for my prayers to the Father to be directed in this way. Just as Jesus said that he could only do what the Father is doing, this is true for each of us. Prayer helps us see and act on what the Lord is doing.

Who are you praying for?
Are there people in your life that you fail to prayer for? One thing I know, prayer makes a difference. God uses prayer to shape our lives and the lives of others. Are you aware of the needs of people around you? Bring them to the Lord and see how God works in those moments of prayer. I believe that the Lord will work and often in ways that you are not even prepared for.

What is the next spiritual step you need to take?
God leads us and directs us daily. God is always shaping our lives. We are not walking through this life alone on our own island. Are you aware that God longs to lead you in ongoing spiritual growth? It seems that many people get saved and stop at that point. God is always moving and the Lord wants us to be moving along with Him. Life with God is not to be stagnant but one of vibrant creative growth. This maybe overwhelming to you, but I believe spiritual growth must be a reality. One step at time... No one gets over a wall in one swoop. One step at a time. Are you alert to God's work in your life? Some days I am and some times I am not. I believe the pattern of my life should be attune to the Lord more and more. So how is God at work in you? It may be a character issue or the way your treat your spouse. Regardless of what the matter is, God longs to deepen your life and will do all He can to direct you to Himself.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Unified Journey

The other week I preached Unity. Psalm 133 is such a beautiful passage that really speaks to the heart of this topic. There is so much that we do separately that working together often gets overlooked. Unity does not uniformity. I can be unified around a certain vision and still not flesh it out the same. I may have a similar vision with another person but actualizing this vision becomes the challenge. It seems from Psalm 133 that there are two great blessings from unity and one is seeing the blessing of God on the work being done and the other is that unity produces growth and life. How is unity a active part of your life? Is there someone that you are struggling with? How have you faced the challenge of making amends in a relationship gone bad? What is one step that you can take to bring about the restoration needed?

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Pilgrim's Promise

Today is Columbus day and it fits with what I shared yesterday. Today is the actual date in which Columbus found this great land we enjoy. October 12, 1492 Columbus landed and began the exploration of our grand land. The Pilgrims were on a Journey and on this journey they experienced every emotion possible as they walked through very challenging moments.
The series I am preaching is on the Psalms of Ascent and they are a group of passages written and sung by the people of God in travel mode. Yes, these Psalms a part of the people's pilgrim heritage. On this journey there was the sense of needed help. Psalm 121 asks this very question, "Where does my help come from?" Our help comes from the Lord. He does not sleep, rather He is very aware of what is going on in our lives. Not only does the Lord watch over us, he is also our keeper. He keeps us and longs to meed the very needs we have.
Take time to read Psalm 121...
We all look for help at some point in our lives. When have you most recently sought help?

Where have you looked for help?

How does it make you feel that the Lord is watching over you at all times?

The Psalm concludes with the thought that the Lord is our keeper. How does this make you feel?
Consider these questions as well as your own as you read through the text. May you sense the Lord's presence as you seek Him daily! This is Lord's promise to those who seek Him!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Step Up - Take a Step Up

I started a new sermon series yesterday on selected Psalms of Ascent. These are 15 different Psalms from Psalm 120 to Psalm 134. They are rich meaning and very thought provoking. It has been a great to study them and consider how the people of God utilized them down through the years. Consider that these very Psalms being sung as the people came out of exile or consider them being sung on the way to the annual festival celebrations.
How awesome to consider how these provide us with a window in the lives of those who have gone before us. When you read these passages you will see the authenticity by which they address God and even contemplate how He will make Himself known to them. What a joy it is to see the genuine nature of these passages and how they challenge our sanitary way of addressing the Lord. We clean up good and make things look mighty nice for our Sunday morning services, but the truth is my life is anything by clean and neat. In fact our lives are messy, but Jesus gets down in the middle of our mess with us. This means that God longs to walk with us as we deal with junk in our lives. Let me tell you, I need this. I need the Lord to work in my life. Cause my life is messy maybe just like yours. Take some time and begin reading the Psalms of Ascent. I think you will enjoy the dialogue you find there. The word ascend means to "step up" and these passages take the reader on a journey upward to meet with the Lord. So take a hopeful step and meet the Lord in a new place. May the Lord make Himself known to you in fresh way as you seek in these ancient passages.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Taveling Light

The title of this blog is not unique, rather it came from the book title I saw several years ago. The point of the title fits, because I will be traveling with the GSU football team again this year and certainly need to travel light. I really don't need much with me on the road, but I still have a hard time packing less than I can possibly use.
It is hard to distinguish between what I need and what I might need. I can't seem to figure out just should take with a willingness to leave the other stuff behind. How about in your life? What stuff do travel with that you should leave behind? You, like me, have stuff in your bag that you don't need. I am sure you carry with you past failures that should have been long since dropped. We must not let the past mistakes in our lives to define our present or determine our future.
With this said, we must take what life brings us and see it through the eyes of Christ. When we live with a God perspective, we are able to discern what God is saying to us and wants to accomplish in and through us.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Talking with Jesus

Everything changes when you have a conversation with Jesus. When was the last time you sat down and had a conversation with the Lord. This morning I preached a sermon from Luke chapter ten where Jesus pays a visit to the home of Mary and Martha. Martha is busy preparing for the visitors, while Mary is at the feet of Jesus listening to His words. Martha is frustrated and "distracted" by all that she has to do. Jesus tells Martha that Mary has chosen what is better and to basically reevaluate her own priorities. Hmm... kind of hard words to take. I know it would nice have some help from time to time.
So let's think about this plot in our world. How does this same story line play out in your daily life? Do you find yourself in the same situation? Do you find yourself running around only to find out later that you are not only physically tired, but spiritually exhausted as well? Jesus is highlighting a great principle for us: we must pause our life to sit with Jesus, because a conversation with Jesus changes everything. When we fail to stop with Jesus, we are implying that our activity is more important, that God's hands are idle when ours are, as well as revealing that we have a lack of trust in God's leadership in our circumstances.
God wants to be involved in our lives even more than we realize. Take time this week to press the pause button and intentionally involve the Lord in your life. Ask God to make a daily difference in and through your live and know that He will.

Remember: A conversation with Jesus really does change everything.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wisdom

I have been reading the Proverbs lately. It has been fun to see how practical and helpful these short sayings really are to my life. There is great wisdom to be found there and it is easy to read. If you have not made it through each of the chapters I encourage you to take a chapter a day or a portion of a chapter and see how God reveals Himself to you and applies a truth to your life.

I like this one in 10:9 says:
The man of integrity walks securely
but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.
Or this one in 3:34-35
He mocks proud mockers
but gives grace to the humble
The wise inherit honor
but fools he holds up to shame.
Or a personal favorite 4:23
Above all else guard your heart
for it is the wellspring of life.
This is just a smattering of the great insight presented in the book of Proverbs. I am sure these nuggets of wisdom will push and challenge you just as they have my life and marriage. Take time to read and reread the passage each day and in the process I think you will find the scripture reading you. When this happens you won't just be getting through the Bible, rather the Bible will be working through you. I need this and I am certain you do as well!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Walking Across A Room

I am reading a book by Bill Hybles, Just Walk Across the Room, about evangelism. He presents a very simple idea that is hard for us to grasp. Hybles says that if we will take the time engage people in conversation about Jesus, then we will see God begin to work in their lives. Often we overlook people or dismiss them as unreachable, when God wants to share His grace with them. It all begins with a simple conversation about life and then proceeding onto weightier matters of faith. God can and will use the conversation to help draw the person to Himself. This is the miracle of the way God works. Certainly this is a an act of faith and trust in God, but as we step out in an act of faith God will show Himself faithful.
So, let me ask you a series of questions.

Is there someone in your life that you need to talk with?

Do you believe that the Lord wants to work in each person's life?

What steps do you need to take to begin sharing Christ with people in your life?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

drivng crazy

what drives you crazy? for some people it is as simple as not punctuating correctly, but for others it takes much more. what about you? what drives you up the wall. a slow driver? a mean fast-food attendant? or maybe a it is an attitude of a person you work with.
there are a lot of things that drive me crazy... many of which are problems of my own. like why do i find it easy to spend money on myself but when i see a person in need i clutch my money like i am protecting a child? why do i show favoritism toward a person of means but when i see a person of a lower economic status do i make quick judgements about them?
i get frustrated by the fact that i know the truth but i don't always apply it. in many situations i what to do, but i just don't. i am not completely sure of the reason, but i know that this is the case in my life. the foundational problem is sin - like it or not it is the truth. we are not perfect people and imperfect people will act like imperfect people much of the time. God help us all!!
we are reminded by james to not just hear the truth but live the truth out!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thankful

I read a great quote the other day. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, "We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?"
It seems to me that the small things in life are often the things we overlook, but turn out to be the best part!!
Take a moment and give thanks for the little things you have been blessed with!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

French Press Coffee & More

How do you like your coffee? I like my coffee early in the morning on the front porch. I like my coffee in the mountains during the fall of the year at the Red Rocker Inn. I like my coffee sitting with my wife at our favorite little coffee shop - The Daily Grind. I miss coffee with my Dad after a duck hunt. I remember having my first cup of coffee with my parents before I went to school. Good times!! Back then I fixed my coffee with plenty of milk and sugar. In college & seminary I drank my coffee black. At this point, I can drink any way I can find it but I prefer a little milk and honey. I found my favorite way to make it - French Press. It is a little more work, but the taste is staggering. The coffee is full bodied and bold as you might expect. The coffee seems to taste a little better and natural. It may be just in my head, but french press coffee is now the coffee bliss my taste-buds long for. It is unfiltered joy. What you see is what you get. I think this is what Jesus intended for us to get out of following Him. I need Jesus unfiltered. He is real and raw but I think this is what we need... yep this is what our world needs. The furious love of God - unfiltered love. The amazing grace of God - unfiltered grace. The mysterious mercy of God - unfiltered mercy.
I need it... You need it... We all need it! and we can!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Two Thoughts

I am up early on this Monday morning. I could not sleep past 4am... go figure. So I got up to do a little around the house. I had a couple of thoughts...

Why is humility so elusive? I am not sure, but I know that it is in short supply in many areas of our society. Yet, this is the quality that shines out in the person of Jesus. It seems that among His followers humility is not highly regarded. I know I need more in my life. Lord take me to a place where humility is formed... for I know I will not take myself.

What does it mean to be a missionary in your own zip-code? A friend of mine posed this question the other day. Got me thinking. Maybe it will get you thinking. We need to think more like a missionary as we go throughout our days. May we see our streets like Jesus sees them. May we see people like Jesus sees them. Then life may change for us!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Taste and See

Scripture tells us to "taste and see that the Lord is good." God tastes good! His followers should too! Why is that people who follow Jesus often don't look very much like Him? This has always been interesting to me. We must live authentically Christian lives! Lives that live for the glory of our Lord.
John Stott remarks, "We recite the creed in church, sing hymns expressive of devotion to Christ. We even exercise a variety of ministries in his name. But he is not impressed by our pious and orthodox words. He still asks for evidence of our sincerity in good works of obedience."
How does your life taste to those around you?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fruitfulness

This won't be long, but my sermon tomorrow kind of got me thinking. What is the fruit of my life? The reality is our lives have an impact whether we like or not. We all leave a lasting impact in this life.
So, what is the mark that your life is leaving on this world? It seems that we must deal with this reality daily. If you and I neglect this truth our lives will very surely not be what God intended. I know that the presence of Christ enables us to leave a stamp on this life that far out weighs anything we can do in our own power.
May we all stay attentive to the fruit we are producing. I love good fruit. I am not sure what my favorite fruit is, but the mangos in Africa were quite amazing! I want others to enjoy the fruit of my life. I believe that God wants each of us to be a blessing as we live out our days on this earth.
Is the fruit of my life Chirst centerd or self centered? I needed this reality check! Maybe you did too?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Africa Part 3: Need Crutches?

I came back from Africa and realized that we here in our comfortable brand of Christianity depend way too much on various crutches. We often lean on money, buildings, and notoriety, just to name a few, to get our work done. The people that we served in Guinea truly depended on the hand of God to do His work. On more than one occasion I heard our lead missionary mention that the work they are a part of was not "their" work but "God's" work. I was impressed because I am often tempted to think of the work "I am doing" for God. I am selfish and these loving people were selfless. Their lives were alive with God and often I think we are simply dead men walking. I saw evidence of the Spirit at work in one of the most challenging places and often we claim that God is at work here in our context(and I know He is), but after being in the presence of God's work in Guinea I am beginning to revisit how I consider God's work in our world. Do we do our plans and stamp God on it? Do we figure out how to do what we want and then suddenly give God credit to look appropriately religious? I don't fully know the answers to these questions and I am not sure how this shakes out in our context, but I must say God spoke to me about leaning on Him and not just the "stuff" that I am used to propping myself up with.
So let me ask one final question. What are you praying for? What am I praying for? This past week I was challenged by this and I am not sure what the answer is for you, but I know that my prayers are often selfish and small. Our friends in Guinea are praying for a whole tribe of people to experience the Grace of God. They are praying that the Kingdom of God would advance - and it is - in an area of the World that many people consider untouched. But let me tell you the Kingdom of God is advancing here an around the world and we can either get on board or miss out. Let's pray big prayers that lean on the power of God and not just our ability. Let's believe that God can and wants to do something great in our day as He has in days past. Amen and Amen!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Africa Part 2: African Adventure

video

Graduation - Grace Does Abound



Grace is truly amazing. God really is good to us and His love and faithfulness last a lifetime. I continue to be amazed at how God brings various blessings into our lives. Julie and I are blessed far more than we deserve. I am so grateful for the love that we share in our marriage. We are also blessed with a great heritage of family. Our families have always loved and supported us and for this we are a better couple. Our church family has also provided the needed the encouragement for us as a couple to minister in this community. All of this created a wonderful foundation for me to stand on as I began my doctoral work. I loved each step of the way and I am a better man because of it. I recieved a peace of paper saying that I had earned a degree but I must say that I was graced with much more during the past three years. God has truly done a work of grace. I am a different person. My marriage is stronger. I feel healthier and more equipped to do the work God has called me to be a part of. In short, Grace gifts abound in my life.

Psalm 117 puts it so well:

Praise the Lord, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Africa Part 1: Who would Jesus hang out with in your world?

When you walk into a room who do you look for? When you find yourself in a conversation what topics do you bring up? Often I find myself looking for the people I know. Then I look for the people that may be the most important and most influential. How about you? Do you look for the people in the crowd that are the movers and shakers? Do you find a way to mention how important you are or maybe how important this other person is? If not then you are better than most of us. Most of us do this without even thinking about it. So it may take some time to consider your actions and to be truly honest with yourself about your daily conversations.

Why is this important? As I look at scripture, I see Jesus hanging out with those that are outcast and disconnected from the elite crowd of His day. Jesus did not center His attention on the most religious, actually Jesus considered the value of all people. Jesus soiled His personal reputation for the sake of others. Stop now and think about this. Our Savior and Lord had a reputation of being a drunkard and a glutton. Jesus hung out with drunkards, tax collectors (thieves), prostitutes, and a host of other sickly outcasts. I love that Jesus was a friend of sinners. No other religious leader of His day was. So what does this mean for you and me? What does this have to do with Africa.?

Most people would not see the people that we ministered with and to as important or influential but the thought came to me while walking through these remote villages, "This is where Jesus would be." How would Jesus treat these people? I saw believers in the land of the persecuted living by faith and shaped by the authentic love of God. I saw a sweet community of believers clinging to the precious word of the Gospel. I now see these wonderful people as modern day saints teaching me what it truly means to walk with Jesus. I was humbled and blessed to be in the presence of some of our greatest followers our our day. Followers who will most likely remain anonymous known only by there Father in heaven. They may not have a degree, write a book, or go to largest church but they are faithfully walking daily with our Lord. Oh, how much I have to learn about value in in the Kingdom. I must be honest, I need a daily perspective check. I thank the Lord for His grace to be a part of their lives, even for one brief week!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Internal Impact

How long has it been since you have been impacted in a significant way? How does God get you attention? What does it take for you to be open to the work of God in this world? I am not sure how you answered these questions but I know that God got my attention last week in Africa. To be fair, we don't have the luxury of going to Africa each time we need a new perspective on life. Most of the time I believe that we are jaded and distracted from God's purposes. This past week God woke me up to some of the most amazing truths and took me to a new place in my own walk with Him.

All People Matter - Jesus Thinks So
The Ministry of Presence
God is Not A Drive-Thru
God's Kingdom is Advancing
The Necessity of Daily Obedience
A Spiritual Death Sentence - Growing Dead Churches
Poverty in The World
Getting off Our Crutches
Learning to be Dependant

These are just a few of the lessons that I took from last week and will write on over the next few days. I look forward to relating my trip to Africa as I write and hope that you will be encouraged and challenged.

Don't forget:
God is always trying to get our attention. Are you attentive to work of God in your life and to His perspective on this life? Let God do a deep in work in your life. I know it is hard. I put up a fight. Let's let God have His way with us. God will speak and will to take us to a new place of faith. Let's give Him the space He needs and respond obediently to His leading.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Overflow

We often think our lives are lived in a vacuum and no one really notices how we live. But this is not the case at all. There is a strong impact our lives have in wake of our living day to day. How often do we stop to consider the way our lives are impacting others. Stop for a moment and consider this verse.

"For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." Jesus
Whether we like it or not, our lives bubble over and touch others. Our actions are connected to what is deep within us. The truth is whatever we are putting into our lives will in fact be seen by those in our corner of the world.
We must care deeply about the interior of our lives. We must consider what we are taking in less we be surprised- or embarrassed- about what comes out.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Challenges We Ignore

I was reading the other day in the gospel of Mark about a time when some people begged Jesus to leave because they were not comfortable with His actions. It seems that it frightened them and I can understand because I have been there. I have been in the place where Jesus is at work and the work He is doing does not fit into my normal or natural framework. This makes me uneasy and really pushes me to limits I am not used to. Why am I like this? What is it in me that only allows Jesus to work in ways that are in line with my certain way of thinking? Why do I do this? I am convinced that I (we) miss the activity of Jesus far more than know. Jesus is always at work around us and wanting to use us, but we shrug it off as weird or unusual, while He is pursuing the greater good of us all. This makes me sad and strangely hopeful about the future. God still wants to work but we must be open. Jesus is always, always working toward the purposes of the Father.

Lord help us to be vessels you can use... Vessels open to your unique work in this your great world.

May we not ignore the work of God... the simple leadings of the Spirit... Jesus be magnified in us we pray!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Navigating Life

Navigating life is hard... Often life deals us certain situations that just make us stop... pause... and consider the life we have, the life we want, and the life we are uncertain about. On this rainy Sunday evening I am wondering about my life. What will it bring? What will I give myself to and how will I live out the days I have been given. I pray that I will leave a mark stamped with the hand print of God's redemptive love.

Grace and Peace From Him

Grace and Peace to You

Grace and Peace For All

Grace and Peace Flows Down

Grace and Peace Arises

Grace and Peace

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Last Day of March

March has been a good month for me. I don't know about you, but other than the up and down weather, I have certainly enjoyed the past few weeks. Preaching has been fun, but not the best. I have enjoyed our sermon series of Jesus' last words from the Cross. I certainly have much room for improvement in my preaching. The longer I communicate, the more I fail to remember that preaching really is an art form. This means that it is fluid/changing and should not be static. I am still learning, and I hope to stay on this journey. The college mission trips seemed to be meaningful for all who participated. I am very thankful to have gone to Greece and count it a blessing to have grown so much during the trip. I want to speak to two other "lessons from Greece" later on in the blog, but won't at this point. Julie and I have really had a great month. We are in our best season of marriage yet. She is my best friend and for that I am so very grateful. She is on her way back from Mississippi today. She has been visiting her family and having a great to time with her sister's kids. We have great families and we love them so much. I still miss ya Pop!!

Life Lesson One...
Prayer is a conversation. I really forget this much of the time. I get off into the business of my day and stop talking to God... then I realize it is nearly midnight and I need to talk with Him. This is poor on my part and short-sighted. I want to talk with Jesus throughout the day, not just when I need something from Him or I'm in pinch. I really need to spend some time just hanging out with Jesus and intentionally involving Him in my day... Maybe you do too...

Life Lesson Two...
I realized in Greece that people just want to have a conversation. People want to chat. In fact I need to chat with my friends and others that I bump into. I spoke with many people in Greece and I don't think that I was once turned down... I carried on a conversation with people for nearly hour on several occasions and had the best time. I was able to share my faith with a couple of young professionals from Athens. This happened in the midst of conversation... There is power in words you know... spoken words... written words... the Word. I believe, one of God's greatest gifts to us is CONVERSATION.

Here's some homework:
a. start having a conversation with God - involve Jesus in your day.
b. look for someone to share a conversation with - intentionally hangout with someone.

Your life will be enriched and more than likely changed. I promise!! Mine was...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Culture Connections

What is the normal rhythm of your life? Is there a normal rhythm to your days? Have you ever thought that God has a rhythm for our lives? I believe God cares about the very days we live and each moment that makes up these various days. This means that God gives notice as to how we spend the minutes that make up the moments of the days we live on this earth. Now that is something to think about. So I ask myself... Am I living in a rhythm that pleases God? Am I aware of His rhythm for my life? Am I aware of His rhythm in this world? Am I connected and in step with His rhythm?

While in Greece, our team was intentionally trying to be aware of how God was moving in a culture most of us had never been in before. It is challenging to consider the pattern of God's movement in our own context(GSU - Statesboro-USA), but even more challenging to consider the movement of God in whole other country.

How do we connect with a culture that seemingly cares little for the God we worship. It seems to me that it begins with being attentive to God, His character, and His consistent ways of acting. This means we must get to know God. It may appear to be simplistic but I truly believe that it is true. We must journey with God and get to know Him intimately.

Jesus said the greatest commandment is this...

"To love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."
Matthew 22:37

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A World Apart

Over the next few postings I will reflect on my recent trip to Greece. I had wonderful time over in history rich Athens, Greece. I was amazed at all I experienced during our 10 day exploration of this ancient land. The people of Greece are a delight and the country is beautiful. There is part of me still in Athens, the experience was so rich I would like to still be over in the country. It was one of the best m-experiences I have ever been a part of. Sharing the love of Christ with people this past week, radically changed me in various ways.

Why do we have travel nearly 10, 000 miles to live with a sense of urgency? Why must we leave for a week in order for God to teach us truths we have heard over and over? Why does it seem that we care so little for the people in our own back yard?

These questions as well as a plethora of others come to mind when I consider the impact of this past week...

Lord I am thankful
I am not sure why
But I am so very blessed
By Your ever present hand
On my life
Help me live anew
Give me courage
Strengthen my resolve
And patience to listen for You
Amen and Amen

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Boocoodles

We are in the midst of Lent. Have you thought about what you will give up during this part of the Christian calendar? How can you give up something that will enable you to draw closer to the Lord? Give thanks...

What does Christ mean to you?

I ran across a great quote the other day from Blaise Pascal that made me stop and think about what Christ truly means to me...
"Not only do we know God by Jesus Christ alone, but we know ourselves only by Jesus Christ. We know life and death only through Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ, we do not know what is our life, nor our death, nor God, nor ourselves."

So what is Christ to you?

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it." Thomas Paine
Let us remember during this season of celebrating our Faith, that Christ suffered for our freedom and we stand on the shoulders of many great men and women of faith.

Press the Pause Button

Has your life spun out of control within the first 2 months of the year? Have you had time to breathe lately? Let me ask you to do something... stop right now and close your eyes. Take 3 deep breaths. Take these three breaths with purpose and allow your lungs to fill completely. Studies have shown that we rarely take deep breaths, in fact most people use only a fraction of their lung capacity.

The same is true of our lives. There should be a natural breathing to our days. This will enable us to live in the peace and rest of Christ rather than the frantic life our world offers. Jesus said if we would come to Him that we would find rest... Lately, have you found rest or have you found yourself busier than ever? If you have not found rest, let me suggest, you just might have missed Jesus somewhere along the way?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday Night Thoughts

Anger? Who said I am angry?

Do you have a problem with Anger? A good indication may be what happens when you stump your toe. This may not be the best indicator, but I am sure that there are times that you "stump your toe" and something is blurted out that you wish you could take back. The truth is, life often presents us with circumstances that bring out the true character we are made of. In my life anger does not seem to be a problem, but I do get frustrated. I get to various points in my life where I just get frustrated about an issue... the issue may be at work... the issue may be with Julie and me... the issue may be with a sin that trips me up routinely...
How do you handle moments in your life when you are dealt a bad hand? Do you get angry or do you handle the situation with mature grace? Does anger and/or bitterness keep you from moving to a new place in your life spiritually? How can you and I move beyond the place we are spiritually in our lives... For some it is dealing with the anger that is controlling them.

What does it mean for us to give a "prostitute a party?"

Our pastor, Dr. Waters, asked us today to consider what it means for FBC to give a prostitute a party? I am considering this and I am not sure what it looks like, but It seems to me that it means that our lives and ministry will look a lot different than they do right now. I loved this sermon and it has pushed me to reconsider the way I am living... am I being salt in the world?

On Shaky Ground?

A friend of mine just the other day was talking about the state of the economy and he said that times like these reminded him of Hebrews 12 when it talks about things being shaken. The things of this world will be shaken and the things that cannot be shaken will remain. This world and all it's stuff will pass away, but things of God will not be shaken.

One Final Word

I have a continued passion to reach college students. I continue to be reminded of this deep need in our community. I love serving our church and I am thankful for a church that encourages us to think outside the box. I am not completely how this is supposed to look, but the truth is there are thousands of students that are not being reached by any church or ministry... How can we begin to reach the thousands of students that are at our doorstep? I am becoming more and more convinced that what we are presently doing is not enough and sense that we may need to make changes in order to reach out to these students... GSU states that in 8-10 years that 25 thousand students will be here crawling around Statesboro. Are we positioning ourselves to reach them? Are we ready to step boldly into a new future? Will we make changes that are necessary or just continue maintaining our present level of ministry? We will either take charge of the situation and position ourselves for the future or we will stand by and do nothing. Please pray that we will sense God's direction as we prepare to reach more students both now and and in the near future.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lust

What is lust? Lust can be defined in many ways, but it is certainly the unhealthy desire for some object. If we are not alert, lust can easily find it's way into our lives. It can be found in various forms and can easily lead us astray. I have a friend that says that it is not just about sex, he admits to a lust for books. For men lust can easily spotted, while in women lust can often go undetected.
What do you lust for? Clothing... Vacations... Money... Shoes... Cars... A Job... the list can go on and on.
Jesus said that we must be careful, for the lust of the flesh can lead us far away from God's way in this world. It seems to me that we must learn to be content and to provide ourselves a chance to slow down. If we don't slow down, we will most often find ourselves in the same rat race as millions of others. Slowing down is not easy, but my personal testimony is that it is best and the only way we will truly hear the Lord speaking to us. Our lives are way to NOISY!!
Today I was able to slow down and reflect for a while... I am a very blessed person. God had blessed me with so much. Why I would I lust for more, when I already have more than I deserve!?!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Questions... I have a question.

Why is humility such a hard quality to obtain? On Sunday Night our teaching focus are the 7 Deadly Sins. This list of sins include: pride, anger, slothfulness, lust, envy, gluttony, and greed. Theologians during the middle ages concluded that these sins were common snares in the life of any individual. As you can see from the list, these sins present a challenge for any believer desiring to live a life that resembles Christ.
This past Sunday night I spoke on pride. Our culture often applauds the arrogant and their accomplishments. It is so easy to build ourselves up and take credit for something. Here is a challenging verse from the book of Romans and one that would be good remember daily.
"Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." Romans 12:3

Remember what John Bailey said:
Pride is confidence in self.
Humility is confidence in God.

Friday, January 30, 2009

On the Run

This week in the contemporary service we are beginning a Sunday morning series taken from the book of Jonah. The series is entitled "On the Run", and prayerfully will be help us as we respond to the Lord.
How do you respond when God speaks to you? What is your initial state of mind, when you know that God has spoken? We all respond to the Lord. Whether it is all internal or literally a physical action, we all respond to God.
Our response to the Lord says a lot about the state of our Spiritual lives. We may say we want to be in the middle of God's will, but do we really? We may say that we will give our all, till our all is truly called for. So over the next four weeks we are going to peel back the curtain on the life of Jonah. We just might see ourselves at some point on the stage.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fine Art $29

i saw a sign today for fine art... i like art and i like good art... i can't afford fine art, but i do appreciate it. i went to Louvre about 6 years ago and i had the best time meandering around the halls looking over the centuries old artwork... when i think that about art i think about how the piece of art expresses something beautiful and enables another person to bask int its beauty. i wonder if my life is somehow accomplishing something beautiful... do you ever think about that?

when i think about fine art... i tend to think about the price that some people are willing to pay... i have a friend back home that loves art and he pays thousands of dollars for the work... he says that it is an investment, and has given his wife several pieces during their marriage... when the children were born, he bought a painting for his wife rather than a piece of jewelry... he says and knows it is expensive, but you must appreciate the work and then you are willing to pay the price... i know that God wants to do a work of art in my life, but sometimes i don't appreciate the work... i am not willing to pay the price

FINE ART $29... the sign just did not look fitting... i thought to myself, somehow we have cheapened the great art of our day. it seems that we have done this also in a Spiritual sense in our day... we have cheapened the work that Christ has done to paint something beautiful with our lives... but we cheapened it and put a sign on it saying FINE ART... but the truth is that it scarcely resembles anything close to the masterpiece that God wants to do... this does not mean they are perfect, any art has "flaws" in it... so our lives are a work in progress... our lives are not fine art because we hang a sign on that says "Christian", but because we accept the hard work that Christ did for us and we allow him to accomplish that same work in us... now that is fine art... that is the work of Christ in our life!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Here We Go Again in '09

2009- wow... can you believe that a new year has come? It is hard to believe that 2008 has gone and 2009 is already nearly 3 days old. I enjoy the start of the new year. It is a way to start over and have a new outlook on the coming months. I get excited as I consider all the possibilities and opportunities that await us. What do you want to see happen in this new year? How will you live differently? What changes will you make to your life? We have only so many days, so lets make the most of them. The year will be gone before we know it!!